It’s that time of year again. Eggnog, anyone? How ’bout one of Mom’s frosted sugar cookies? As holiday festivities approach, here are some simple swaps to help you save the packing for the presents instead of the pounds.
1. Greek yogurt for sour cream/ranch
Yes, eating from that vegetable platter is good for you, but not when your carrot sticks are slathered with sour cream or drenched in creamy ranch dip. Skip the saturated fat without skimping on flavor by using Greek yogurt instead. I bet you won’t even be able to tell the difference. An ounce of sour cream has upwards of 60 calories, whereas an ounce of nonfat plain Greek yogurt has only 15-20.
2. Whole wheat flour for white flour
Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without the festive cookies. Since you’ll probably be doing a lot of baking, try switching out white flour for its healthier, fiber-containing counterpart. If you’re feeling extra ambitious, you could even experiment with nut-based flours to make gluten-free options!
3. Roasted sweet potatoes for candied yams
Hold the sugar, you’re sweet enough already. But seriously, though. Instead of soaking this hearty starch with honey or syrup, bring out its natural sweetness by roasting it in the oven until it’s just barely soft to the touch. You won’t be disappointed. These roasted supertubers will give you the most bang for the calorie.
4. White meat for dark meat
Yes, we all love juicy drumsticks, thighs and wings. Along with that extra richness, though, comes about twice the fat and 1.4 times the calories of white breast meat. This isn’t to say you can’t have the whole turkey/chicken/duck/whatever your family eats during the holidays on your dinner table. Just try to avoid the skin and be more selective about the meat. Here’s the secret to preparing juicy white meat.
5. Roasted chestnuts for roasted mixed nuts
The unsaturated fats in peanuts, cashews, pecans and their nutty relatives are heart-friendly, but the high caloric density is not waist-friendly. There’s no doubt that these nuts have many nutritional benefits and can certainly be part of a balanced diet. The key here is portion control. It’s so easy to overdo it on the nuts, as a few can quickly become many handfuls before you know it. A half-cup of roasted nuts can contain nearly 400 calories, compared to the 104 in a half-cup of roasted chestnuts. Plus, there’s something romantic about chestnuts roasting on an open fire, no?
Healthy holidays, everyone!